After the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century, the Norman rulers aimed to expand their dominion over Wales as well. While initially, Norman lords built castles along the English-Welsh frontier to guard their territories, they soon began expansion into Welsh areas.
Since they faced stiff resistance, the Norman lords built a massive number of castles in Wales to cement their rule. It is estimated that more than 500 castles were built following the Norman push into the Welsh regions.
Subsequent English monarchs all the way until the Tudor times paid special attention to the construction of fortifications and castles in Wales.
Edward I of England launched a large-scale military campaign into Wales in 1276 and then in 1282, effectively bringing Wales under English dominion during this plantagenet period, some of the most famous castles in Wales were constructed.
Cardiff Castle is located by the bank of River Taff. It was originally the site of a Roman stronghold constructed when the Romans invaded Britain.
Following the Norman invasion of Wales, the Norman lords had a large keep constructed at the site of the Roman fortification.
This structure was expanded and fortified in the later period, making it a major Norman fortress. Later when the defensive significance of the castle no longer remained paramount, it was reconstructed in the Gothic style and became a private residence.
The castle was extensively restored and preserved in the 19th century and remained in a well-preserved shape.
The original site of the Caerphilly castle in the Welsh county of Gwent was the site of a Roman stronghold in the pre-medieval period.
In 1298, following the Norman invasion, a well-fortified castle was built on the site of this Roman fortress. This castle was embellished with many defensive structures, making it one of the most secure in Wales.
The structure of the castle includes an exterior boundary wall with a guardhouse and an interior ward with defensive towers of its own.
The exterior wall is, in turn, surrounded by moats and small islands. The castle underwent significant restoration and preservation in the Victorian age. Today, it is open to visitors.
Raglan castles construction dates back to 1435 and is located in the middle of the countryside in the county of Gwent. The original structure of the castle was erected with an eye to both luxury and fortification.
While the exterior was embellished with many defensive elements, the interior of the castle was built with a large courtyard and lavish living quarters, making it an ideal residence for the local lords.
The castle remains in a very well-preserved shape to this day and is open to visitors.
Caernarfon Castle is one of the many castles which were constructed at King Edward Is behest all over Wales. The construction of the Caernarfon castle commenced in 1283.
Its structure makes use of the typical concentric walls and towers which defined many Edwardian castles.
The castle was built with an eye to durability and defense. A solid exterior wall served as the first line of defense and it was, in turn, surrounded by an inner portion with a wall and towers of its own. The first Prince of Wales was born in this castle, adding to its historical significance.
Most of the original structure of the castle remains excellently well-preserved to this day and the castle is open to visitors.
Pembrokeshire was one of the earliest areas to fall to Norman control in the 11th century.
The Earl of Shrewsbury managed to gain control of the region in the late 11th century and had the Pembroke castle constructed in 1093.
The castle was primarily meant to serve as a fortification and for this reason, it is built in a very durable style.
Despite modifications over the subsequent centuries, most of the original structure of the castle remains extant and well-preserved.
An event of historical significance associated with this castle is that of the birth of King Henry VII here, although this is not fully substantiated.
The castle underwent restoration in the 19th century and is open to visitors today, being one of the most popular tourist attractions.
Abergavenny castle also dates back to the period when the earliest Welsh territories were being annexed to the Norman reign in England.
The castle was the site of a motte-and-bailey structure in 1087 and became a major issue of conflict between Welsh lords and Norman hegemony.
Because of this conflict, the castles ownership switched back and forth between many Norman and Welsh lords in the 12th century. The castle underwent damage in the 17th century and underwent some decline before it was finally restored in the 19th century.
Part of the castle is open to visitors today and hosts a museum with medieval themes.
Carreg Cennen Castle is among the earliest castles in Wales built by the Welsh lords. The original construction of the castle dates back to the 12th century.
It soon passed to the hands of Norman lords in the 13th century and underwent major expansion and reconstruction.
Although it remained a notable Norman castle in Wales, the castle later went through significant damage during the Wars of Roses. Most of the structure of the castle has been restored in the 20th century although it is not entirely preserved in its medieval form.
The castle is open to visitors and is a major tourist attraction in Wales.
Conwy Castles is a structure that dates to the later period of the Norman invasion of Wales when the Norman control had already stretched all the way to the northern coast of Wales.
The castle is located on the northern Welsh coast and was constructed under the orders of King Edward I in 1283.
It was built primarily to serve as a fortification and was located atop a rocky hill, giving it a strategic advantage. The structure of the castle itself is highly defensible, comprising two heavily fortified gates and an exterior boundary that is lined with eight towers.
The castle has remained well-preserved and in good shape over the centuries and nearly the whole of its original structure is extant today.